ANOTHER shop in Limerick’s city centre has been forced to close its doors, citing declining footfall as a central reason for its closure.
Shoe Flair, which is located on Roches Street and has been operating for 17 years in the city, has been forced to close its doors due to a combination of reduced footfall in the city and strict parking guidelines, according to its owner.
“I am very sad to see the shop go as I have been very passionate about the shop since it began 17 years ago,” said owner Kieran O’Brien.
“I’ve had enough. It has been going on now for the last four or five years and the footfall in the city has been continually declining. I’d love to be positive and say it’s going to get better but in my mind I don’t think it will. My shoe shop in Nenagh is doing better so I have decided to keep that store open,” he explained.
However, while a decline in city centre footfall is one reason for struggling shops, Mr O’Brien also says that the increased presence of traffic wardens in the city centre is having a negative impact on shoppers.
“One day I had two people in the shop buying boots and as soon as they saw a traffic warden outside they ran out and they didn’t come back. Parking is quite expensive and can be quite difficult in the city so small towns like Nenagh or Newcastle West that might only have one traffic warden may be more enticing for shoppers.”
This latest retail closure comes on the back of an announcement made earlier in the week of meetings between two big name retailers and council officials. It is believed that leading UK chain Marks & Spencer are one of the interested parties to move into the city centre and a plan to secure the best possible site for a new retailer in the city is due before Christmas.
“I didn’t make this decision lightly. I have been thinking about it for a long time. Some people were saying I should wait until Christmas or the Christmas season but I don’t think that there’s ever a good time to close and ultimately I just felt that I had to make this decision. Our closing down sale is starting on Thursday at 10am and we’ll stay open for two or three weeks after that,” he says.
However, Mr O’Brien says that the support from the Roches Street Traders has been fantastic.
“I opened my own stop at the age of 24 and I have made a lot of friends throughout the years and many loyal customers. I will also be sad to leave the Roches Street Traders too who have been a brilliant support to me,” he added.
“I would hope that I could come back in the future and set up again in the city but I just feel we need to get things up and running in the city again. I feel that there’s too many retail outlets for people to go to on the outskirts of the city with free parking and people don’t want to come into the city as much any more,” he added.